Baghdad France, Germany and Spain announced on Monday, that they had reached an agreement on the next stage of their plans to manufacture a joint European fighter plane.

The Defense Ministers of the three countries said that they had reached a “balanced” agreement on conducting the necessary research to choose the technology that would support reaching the “future combat aircraft system.”

The office of French Defense Minister Florence Parly said that the “Phase 1-B” contracts will amount to 3.5 billion euros (4.3 billion dollars) between now and 2024 and will be financed and shared equally by France, Germany and Spain.

Parley and her German counterparts Annegret Kramp-Karnbauer and Spanish Margarita Robles said their three countries were ready to give the agreement “formal approval.”

France and Germany had announced plans to manufacture a joint fighter in 2017, and Spain joined them at a later time.

According to French media, the second stage will include building an early model aimed at testing the accuracy of advanced technology and the extent of reliance on it.

She indicated that the agreement announced on Monday is necessary to proceed with the largest European defense program aimed at proving the continent’s ability to integrate its disparate defense forces and to enhance its military sovereignty.

After France’s Dassault Aviation Group and European aircraft maker Airbus, who are collaborating on the fighter, expected work to be completed on a prototype by 2026, they now said it is not expected to be completed before 2026.

The aircraft is set to replace the French Rafale and Spain’s Eurofighter jets by 2040.

In addition to the next-generation fighter plane, the program for the future combat aircraft system includes drones and a high-speed communication network called “Combatant Cloud” that will use artificial intelligence capabilities.

The total cost of the program is expected to be about 100 billion euros, compared to previous estimates ranging between 50 to 80 billion euros.

Source: National Iraqi News Agency